Akshay Kumar (Pic: PGTI); Karandeep Kochhar and S Chikkarangappa
Panchkula, November 5: Local lads Akshay Sharma (66) and Karandeep Kochhar (65) showed that their skills and knowledge of the Chandigarh and Panchkula Golf Courses had not been hit by the pandemic.
Akshay, 30, stayed bogey free in familiar conditions at the Chandigarh Golf Club with a six-under-66 as he extended his lead to three shots at the TATA Steel PGTI Players Championship 2020 Presented by Panchkula Golf Club.
Kochhar, who played the second round at Panchkula on Thursday, shot the day’s best overall score of seven-under-65 to rise to tied second at 11-under-133 with Bengaluru’s Chikkarangappa, a 13-time winner on the PGTI. Chikka shot 67 in Chandigarh.
The field divided into two halves played one round each at the Panchkula Golf Club and the Chandigarh Golf Club. The action now shifts totally to the Panchkula Golf Club, which hosts the final two rounds as the halfway cut fell at four-over-148 with 54 professionals making the cut.
Sharma, had two long birdies, a 12-footer and a 20-footer, on the ninth and 11th respectively. He also set up tap-in birdies with excellent chipping on the 13th and 16th.
“The key to today’s round was the momentum earlier on as I started with par and birdie on the first two holes. I was expecting a low score today and I achieved that so it’s quite satisfying and puts me in a strong position. Importantly, I continued to find the greens and hit 15 regulations today following up on my 17 in round one.
“As the final two rounds are in Panchkula, anyone can shoot a low round there if they hit regulation. My focus will be on placement as it was during my first round in Panchkula,” said Akshay.
Kochhar (68-65), gained two spots to move into tied second as a result of his 65. Kochhar was off to an explosive start with six birdies on the front-nine which featured conversions from 25 feet, 35 feet and three quality up and downs including one from the bunker. He had a brilliant run of four straight birdies from the fifth to the eighth.
After a three-putt bogey on the 14th Karandeep came back strongly with birdies on the next three holes where he came up with some immaculate wedge shots including a chip-in on the 17th.
“My driving and iron-play have been great over the first two rounds. I made a really good start today but was a little disappointed with the mental error on the 18th. Fortunately for me, I’ve found myself on the right side of the draw as I have to now play continuously at Panchkula. It would’ve been tougher to adapt to the conditions in Panchkula had I played at Chandigarh today.
Chikkarangappa (66-67), who was overnight sole second, produced six birdies and a bogey en route his 67 that placed him joint second along with Kochhar.
Chandigarh’s Aadil Bedi (69) and Patna’s Aman Raj (69) were next best in tied fourth at six-under-138. Delhi’s Rashid Khan (69) was a further shot back in tied sixth along with Chandigarh’s Amrit Lal.
Gurugram-based Veer Ahlawat, playing at Panchkula, shot the day’s joint best score of 65 to take a share of 11th place at four-under-140. Ahlawat is currently second on the PGTI Order of Merit.
Kolkata’s Sunit Chowrasia, nephew of Indian golf legend SSP Chawrasia, fell from overnight third to tied 11th with a card of 73.
Udayan Mane (71) of Pune, the PGTI Order of Merit leader was tied 15th at two-under-142 along with Bengaluru’s Khalin Joshi (68). Viraj Madappa (69) was tied 25th at one-under-143 while Chandigarh’s Ajeetesh Sandhu (73) was tied 35th at one-over-145.